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Companies Applying Circular Thinking To Packaging?

Product packaging has developed to become hugely diverse, helping brands to attract sales and create an identity which people recognise. Traditionally has been designed and produced through long supply chains, with the main focus on its effectiveness and appeal rather than how it can be reused or recycled.

The Importance Of A New Approach To Packaging

Companies prefer to use the materials with the lowest cost, combined with other cheap materials which make them difficult to recycle easily and ultimately have a detrimental effect on the environment. When combined with a lack of understanding from consumers regarding recycling, packaging can become waste very quickly.

An incredible 79.9m tonnes of packaging waste were generated in Europe in 2011. However some within the industry believe that since then attitudes have changed considerably, with consumers now much more aware of the issue and are choosing brands which use innovative and sustainable packaging.

Resource scarcity is also encouraging major producers to take a look at their packaging and its processes in order to make smarter material choices. And as the world’s middle class grows, particularly in places such as China and India, the amount of packaging needed is going to keep rising. Global packaging sales are forecast to reach £629bn by 2018, according to a report by packaging giant DS Smith.

This has made some realise the huge potential which can be found in discarded packaging. “Packaging should be an asset, not a liability,” says Roy Vissers of the Cradle-to-Cradle Products Innovation Institute. “Companies need to design waste out of the packaging lifecycle, in a way that mimics nature. That means redirecting packaging waste into a closed loop process with no loss of material performance.”

He argues that companies much start seeing packaging as a natural extension of their product, giving them greater responsibility to think about how it will be used and discarded. And he says this mentality needs to be adopted by the majority of the industry if it is to take root and make a noticeable difference in the future.

“A handful of companies are rethinking their packaging and beginning to create designs with better quality materials, but it’s not nearly visible enough,” he says. “It’s vital that more businesses become aware of the commercial and ecological benefits of taking a circular approach to packaging.”


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